The Nittany Lions entered Rec Hall yesterday too much fan fare, and prohibitive favorites against a supposedly rebuilding Iowa team. What transpired in front of packed rec hall whiteout was a humbling beat down, to say the least. In a match that was being compared to some of the all time greats at Rec Hall in the lead up, is now in the company of some of the all time greatest disappointments in program history.
You have to take your hats off to an Iowa team, that came into enemy territory, and out-worked, out-wrestled and out-coached Penn State. You can say what you want about the coaching staff of Iowa and the way they act during matches, but quite frankly Brands out-coached Sanderson yesterday, by a wide margin. For a coach who hasn't really proven at this point in his career that he can take a team from great to national title contender yesterday was certainly a troubling sign. Honestly for all the hype Sanderson has gotten since he's come here I've watched Troy Sunderland coached teams that wrestled Iowa better than that. Iowa wrestled far smarter than Penn State, they also seemed to know every move Penn State was gonna do before it happened. Penn State on the other hand looked completely lost at times, many guys had no plan b for when their primary attack didn't work. You had Alton looking for the headlock over and over when it clearly wasn't there, Kemerer tried only a high crotch to left the entire match with no set up at all.
For those hoping that Penn State was starting a new dynasty is college wrestling this was a rude awakening. With Penn State unable to win this year, with as many things in their favor as they had their future prospects against Iowa certainly look bleak.
As I said going into the match, the dual meets mean very little, so in the grand scheme of things they still have as good a chance of winning Big Tens and Nationals as they did on Sunday before the match started. Although quite honestly what I saw yesterday was not very encouraging, I saw only two guys in Blue and White who looked like they had a shot at being All Americans. The team that wrestled yesterday in my opinion will be luckily to be a top ten team. And again that's not to take anything away from Iowa, they wrestled good smart matches yesterday. And they showed far more heart and fight than anyone on the Penn State roster. Penn State will get a chance to bounce back against a poor Michigan State team on Friday before heading to Ann Arbor for a rematch with Michigan that looks awfully daunting without Pataky in the lineup.
Continue after the break for the unpleasant match by match breakdown.
125: Matt McDonough wins by Fall
Nate Morgan took off his redshirt for a rather tough first assignment. I'm not sure I quite understand wrestling a true freshman's first match against the returning NCAA champ but honestly between Caschera and Morgan it probably made no difference. Morgan did put up a little bit of a fight early but the end of this was never really in doubt. Without Pataky I think Penn State's slim national title hopes are non existent.
133: Tony Ramos wins by decision
This was the beginning of the end for Penn State. This was also the first sign of the tremendous coaching job Brands did. He knew Penn State was going to come out amped up and he used it against them to perfection. Long came out and took a ridiculous amount of shots in the first period and Ramos simply just blocked him off and stayed defensive. Some would say Ramos was stalling but quite honestly this was just smart wrestling. Long also showed very little variety in his set ups, which was a trend for Penn State. The deciding takedown came at the edge of the mat when it seemed Long relaxed which you should never do, and you can never get away with that against Iowa and Ramos took advantage. Long expended most of his energy in the first period, and had nothing left for the third when he needed a takedown badly.
141: Montell Marion wins by decision
Marion the returning NCAA runner up made his season debut as many expected and Alton responded in kind by allowing him to put on a takedown clinic that made him look like Big Ten announcer Lee Kemp. Where the Alton who wrestled Nauman was I have no idea because this certainly wasn't same one. Alton hit one big headlock, which was a thing of beauty, and then tried to sit on a 5 0 lead. But with 20 seconds of that move his lead had already shrank to 5 4. Then instead of using any of the nice set ups and takedowns we saw against Nauman Alton continued to try and just look for the headlock in a desperate attempt to land one big move. He was pathetically gassed by the 2nd period. He looked extremely one dimensional and ordinary yesterday, enough so to give me doubts as to whether he can really All American this year for Penn State. Give Marion credit he finished strong, and he's obviously a good wrestler however I don't think he's as good as Alton made him look yesterday.
149: Molinaro wins by decision
At this point most in the crowd knew the dual was already pretty much over and you could sense it. Penn State needed a big win from Molinaro and he failed to deliver. Wrestling against a solid 141 pounder Frank should have dominated he fell far short. He got an initial quick takedown and the continued to ride without getting anywhere close to scoring back points. I think he was capable of putting up as many takedowns as he wanted especially early which would have gotten the crowd back into and sent a message. Instead he piled up over 3 minutes of riding time good for a whopping 1 point. Then in third period with a 7 point lead needing one more takedown for a major Molinaro was completely gassed, which if you haven't noticed is a continuing trend. Again credit Ballweg from Iowa who wrestled tough and managed to keep it to a decision.
157: David Taylor wins by major decision
If there was a bright spot for Penn State this was it. Taylor manhandled St John from Iowa. He wasn't able to get any of his offense going from the top position but St John had no answer from neutral. Taylor lost his cool a bit in the third period after getting poked the eye, which seemed unintentional to me, and Taylor said the same after the match. I know he's a fiery emotional wrestler but he needs to still keep his cool out there. He was able to deliver a strong performance Penn State desperately needed, there's no question this kid is going be something special.
165: Aaron Janssen wins by decision
This was a pretty lackluster match from both sides. I'd have to guess many Iowa fans are happy Janssen won, but not too thrilled with the way he looked out there. Kemerer is still looking for a break through win, but he didn't show much in this match. He wrestled tough, but as mentioned before there was no set ups on his shots and he took the same shot over and over again which is pretty easy to stop. I still think his big thing is an issue of confidence. On the bright side he looked slightly better getting out from bottom in this match.
174: Ed Ruth won by decision
Ruth completely controlled his match but like Molinaro he was unable to score any bonus points for the team instead finishing a point shy with a 7 point win. Ruth wrestles with a very laid back style which is fine, but he needed to show a little more urgency in the 2nd period and early in the 3rd to try and work for the major. But at the end of the day Ruth looked fairly solid, although not really inspiring. He also seemed to get really hung up looking for the cradle, although at that point in the match Penn State needed something big, so it can be excused. He also got a little wild countering a Lofthouse shot and nearly gave up a defensive fall, something that isn't called much high school and Ruth will need to be careful there. Although the roll through and counter takedown was impressive Ed showed why he is so tough to score on.
184: Grant Gramball won by decision
I was contemplating not even writing a recap of this match that's how upset I was about it. I no longer give grades for the wrestlers because I don't think that's really fair since you don't know what's going on with a wrestler and you're singling them out, but I can tell you Quentin Wright gets a gigantic F. This could be one of the most pathetic efforts I've ever seen by a Penn State wrestler, I quite honestly would have rather seen Penn State run Andrew Church out there to get pinned then what Wright showed on Sunday. He took sloppy lousy shots from neutral, that were about 3 feet too far away and put up no defense at all on Gramball's counter attempts. From the bottom position he spend an eternity laying flat on the mat with his head down. There was zero and I mean zero fight out of him and frankly he didn't seem to care. He'll be lucky to win a match at the NCAAs like that. Simply pathetic. Hopefully he had the flu or something, because quite frankly he made me ill watching him. Again give credit to Gramball he's had an up and down year and this is a solid win for him.
197: Luke Lofthouse wins by major decision
This was simply a matter of Ortega being completely out classed. Although as I mentioned before he at least showed some signs of fight. Although at the same time he gave up way too many easy points with out much defense.
Hwt: Wade wins by decision
Yawn!! Neither of these guys seemed to intent on doing much anything for a better part of this match. Wade won if you can call it that on an escape, the only point of the match. Wade could be really good, but watching the heavyweights this year I feel anyone could be really good. It seems like if you get a takedown at this weight you're golden. Wade needs to be more assertive as I said this could have been a bad matchup for Wade luckily Reising didn't seem to notice until the final minute. Wade though needed to be way more aggressive I'm not sure he took a single shot unless you count leg slaps of which he had many. If they gave point in wrestling for slapping the guys leg Wade would be a world champ, unfortunately it doesn't work that way and you actually have to shoot in with your whole body.
And this is where it's gonna get ugly. I don't even know where to start with what a poor coaching performance this was. I honestly know how that Michigan State radio talk guy felt after they dropped the ball against Notre Dame. This quite frankly has the signs of poorly coached wrestling team that has gotten by on shear talent for the first two months of the season. You have guys like Taylor and Ruth who are national title contenders but you have to wonder how much of that is Cael pushing them to get there and how much of that is the fact that they have more natural wrestling talent than most everyone else. I think in the lightweights the team came out way too amped up, which accounts for some of the being gassed in the third period. Not only were the lightweights too pumped up it caused them to wrestle flat out stupid. Whether or not that is the reason conditioning clearly stinks for this team right now. Even guys that won like Molinaro were getting out hustled in the 3rd period. This simply isn't going to cut it. Scouting is clearly lacking, I didn't see any of guys look completely prepared for what their opponent was about to do. Iowa on the other hand had each of Penn State guys top moves figured out. Molinaro had to fight for every high crotch into a double leg, he got by mostly on brute strength and the eight pound size difference, that's not going to cut it. Marion got caught in the Alton headlock once but was clearly warding it off the whole match, Lofthouse was able stop any cradle attempts of Ruth before they got close to starting. On the flip side of that Penn State had no plan b, again not smart wrestling. We sat and watched as Long did that same shrug by about 10 times to no avail, and then tried to shoot right in without clearing the hands. Alton had nothing outside of desperately reaching out for the head, Kemerer shot the same high crotch over and over, Wright well he had no plan a from the way it appeared as he just lunged at the legs and let Grambrall waltz around uncontested. What concerns me most is I just don't think Cael gets it. In his post match interview, he simply said Iowa wanted it more than us today, I don't know how that was possible but they did. They wanted it more Cael because they have heart something a good coach has to instill in his athletes the will to never fold and never break. That's not the sole reason they won however, they won because they were far more prepared for that match then Penn State was. The man is clearly a good recruiter but as a coach I still have my doubts. There was no excuse for what happened in Rec Hall, and this team has a little over a month to figure it out before it starts to count. But right now quite honestly I'm not overly optimistic. Talent will only take you so far, you need the will to win to be champions and right now this team better take a long look in the mirror to see if they have that.